The twenty-five-year-old heroine, Marianne Chevreuse, represents the young George Sand as she might have been had she remained Aurore Dupin a few years longer, instead of rushing into marriage. Sand emphasizes the joys and pleasures of an unencumbered existence for an independent woman. Marianne’s country estate of Mortsang is very similar to Sand’s Nohant. Remaining unmarried, with her horse Suzon as her chief companion, Marianne is gaining the reputation of being a bit eccentric and too fond of solitude. In fact, she is in love with Pierre André, an old family friend who is also her godfather. In a situation typical of Sand, Pierre is so accustomed to Marianne that he cannot see that he loves her. Sand’s optimistic view of human nature requires that this common but usually insuperable situation must change.
Pierre is a man of considerable talent and abilities who utterly lacks self-confidence. Life has dashed his early unrealistic dreams, and on the brink of middle age he is about to resign himself to empty bachelorhood. Old school ties, however, lead to the arrival of Philippe Gaucher, a Parisian dandy, into Pierre’s life as an unwelcome houseguest. Gaucher is in search of a bride with a dowry, and Marianne has been recommended to him.
Jealousy plays a part in waking Pierre from his lethargy. Sand is at her most deft in delineating attractive, imaginative, worldly people who nevertheless fail to understand what is really important....
(The entire section is 567 words.)